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It's the black tee shirt.

You can’t miss it.

Top deck of the harbor ferry, party of half a dozen. Look like they haven’t seen the sun in a month or three.

But they’re having fun, taking this ride across the harbor and back, even though it's a cold, chilly day.


They're basically sightseeing till it’s time to go to Nicky Rottens (560 Fifth Avenue, 619-702-8068, also 104 Orange Avenue Coronado, 619-537-0280)...



...to take on its challenge to eat a 2-1/2lb burger.

The deal is, do it in 30 minutes and it’s free. Do it in an hour, and you’ll still get your name, city and state “forever engraved” on a plaque on their wall, plus a free NR tee shirt.

But right here, the tee shirt you can’t avoid is on this guy Chad’s back.




Chad Schoch, roughneck.

That’s what he tells me.

“No, that’s what I do,” he says. “Up in North Dakota. Oil. Wildcatting. I tell you, there’s still jobs up to the ears up there. I’m a roughneck, you know, roustabout. Hauling pipes, whatever.”

They were going to head downtown when they got off this boat, the Cabrillo.

“Actually, they have a Nicky Rottens in Coronado too,” I say. “Same deal on the burger challenge.”

“Huh. Maybe we’ll go there. Unless everyone wants to get into the Gaslamp thing.”

“I hear it’s $24.95 if you can’t eat it in time,” I say, by way of warning. "Any size, that’s a lot to pay for a burger."

“Hey,” he says. “Like I say, I'm a roughneck. When you’re earning $29.50 an hour, $24.95 is not a problem.”

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